In Depth

The most popular British royals in 2021

Harry and Meghan’s popularity continues to sink in the UK

The Royal Family have faced a tumultuous few years, with the death of Prince Philip, the exit of Prince Harry and Meghan, and the accusations that continue to dog Prince Andrew.

In the court of public opinion, polls suggest the royals still have strong support overall, but some members have taken a favourability hit.

The Duke and Duchess of Sussex have seen their popularity wane, as they face “continued fallout from their interview with Oprah Winfrey, as well as poor responses to their statements surrounding the Covid-19 pandemic and the withdrawal from Afghanistan”, said Connor Ibbetson, a data journalist at YouGov.

Prince Andrew’s links to disgraced sex offender Jeffrey Epstein have also rocked the Royal Family, with stories about the ongoing US civil lawsuit brought by Virginia Giuffre continuing to fill column inches in the UK and around the world. Andrew, who vehemently denies Giuffre's accusations that he sexually assaulted her at three locations including London and New York City, sits at the bottom of YouGov's royal rankings.

Here are the royals at the top of the table, based on surveys carried out in July to September this year.

The Queen (72% positive opinion - down from 78% in Q3 2020)

Her Majesty sits at the head of both the Royal Family and the YouGov rankings. Nearly three in four people surveyed had a positive opinion of Queen Eizabeth II.

Prince Philip (62% - up from 50%)

Prince Philip has risen 12 points to become the country’s joint second favourite royal. His death in April 2021, aged 99, corresponded with a boost in popularity, which has remained relatively stable over the last six months.

Prince William (62% - down from 73%)

William is second in line to the throne and is in joint second place in the popularity stakes. Although his rating has fallen, he remains far more popular than his father, Prince Charles, who is first in line to the throne, but only the British public’s sixth favourite royal.

Kate Middleton (60% - down from 66%)

The Duchess of Cambridge follows closely behind her husband on the list. As well as carrying out royal duties, she has dedicated her time to supporting a number of charitable causes and organisations, with a particular focus on mental health and children.

Princess Anne (54% - down from 57%)

Princess Anne, the Queen’s second child, is the nation’s fifth favourite royal. A keen equestrian, the Princess Royal was the first member of the family to compete in the Olympics. She rode the Queen’s horse, Goodwill, at the 1976 Montreal Olympic Games.

What about the others? 

Prince Charles is viewed favourably by 45% of the British public, putting him in the sixth spot. Zara Phillips and Sophie, Countess of Wessex, are the seventh and eighth most popular royals, respectively.

The Queen’s grandson, Harry, has fallen six popularity points since this time last year, pushing him down the rankings to become the nation’s ninth favourite royal. 

Once the favourite among millennials, who may have been more sympathetic to his desire for independence than older, more traditional members of the public, he is now only the sixth favourite among those born between 1982 and 1999 - with the Queen at the top.

Harry and his wife Meghan (who is the 14th favourite, with a 28% popularity rating, down from 40% last year) released a statement in early January 2020 saying they planned to “make a transition” to “progressive” new roles within the Royal Family. After consultation with Buckingham Palace, it was decided that they would no longer carry out any royal duties, keep their royal titles, or receive public money.

Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall, rounds out the top ten with 33% approval.

Unsurprisingly, Prince Andrew is at the bottom of the YouGov rankings of 15 royals, with a 13% popularity rating. Pollsters found that just 6% of Britons believed Andrew’s account of his friendship with convicted sex offender Epstein in the infamous Newsnight interview.

Indeed, the i news site’s Andrew Johnson described the fallout from the scandal as “the biggest crisis to hit the monarchy since Princess Diana’s death” back in 1997.

He concluded: “There is no way back into public life for the Prince, even in the event of an eventual vindication from US investigators.”

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